Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Angel & Faith #2 - "Live Through This, Part 2"

PLOT SUMMARY


Faith, Nadira and other slayers get into a big fight breaking up a "drug deal" between a demon and some vampires. During the fight, Nadira gets shot in the leg, but a shadowy figure comes to her rescue. The demon gets away with the cash, but Faith recovers the "merchandise", which happens to be Mohra Demon blood. Faith reconvenes with Angel, who admits to being the shadowy figure, and is still hell bent on bringing Giles back.

He and Faith go to a demon bar as part of Angel's plan to investigate the source of the blood. During a fight, they rip off a demon's third arm, then follow him back to his supplier, where he goes to get the blood to re-grow the arm. Angel explains to Faith what the blood does, and how he'll use it to revive Giles's body (his soul is another issue). They crash the place and, after another fight, interrogate the lead demon to find the source of the blood.

In a flashback scene, Faith and Giles share a conversation in which she wanted to rectify one of her mistakes from the past -- the killing of the professor in "Graduation Day". Giles explains that resurrection isn't possible and "there are...mistakes we can't unmake," which is the lesson she wants to impart on Angel. In the issue's final page, Nash and Pearl (the new baddies) track down the three-armed demon, Kurth, and force him to take them to the Mohra Demon

REVIEW


Covers


The primary cover is once again drawn by Steve Morris, who is the regular cover artist on this series (and Buffy Season 9). I love Morris's likenesses, but his work has a more ethereal quality than the internal pages, leaving me to lean more toward the alternate Rebekah Isaacs cover. It's a true prview of what you're going to get inside the issue, right down to the darker background you'd expect from an Angel comic (he can't exactly fight during the day).


Score: 4 out of 5



Story


I think what I love most about the plot of this issue is how it advances the overall arc of the series while also being action-packed at the same time. There are three major fight scenes in the issue, but there's also some decent exposition going on with the fighting. And while there was still considerable internal monologue/narration, Faith's thoughts weren't nearly as hard to follow as the Giles thinking/spellcasting scene from the first issue.

Mostly, though, I love how this issue ties things into the television series, both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". For the longest time, the Dark Horse comics have kind of lived in their own world, either because of necessity (the pre-Season 8 non-canon comics) or invention (Season 8 kind of went to its own place). This issue has moments -- not just "moments" but key plot and character driving moments -- that tie directly in to things that happened on the television shows. That's the kind of thing that takes a good tie-in comic to the next level.

However, it does need to be pointed out that when Faith references the professor's daughter, it creates a slightly weird continuity issue with the show. When she showed up at his apartment to kill him, she asked if anyone else was there, and he said no, adding that he was a lifelong bachelor. Now, it's entirely possible that a lifelong bachelor would have a daughter -- Faith didn't mention any other family that was mourning his death -- but that's certainly not the vibe I got from the show. Still, the issue is Joss overseen and approved, so we have to let Christos Gage get away with this bit of narrative reworking.

Score: 4 out of 5


Art


I really can't say enough about how much I love Rebekah Isaacs's work on this series. She's really got Eliza Dushku's likeness down after just two issues, not just in terms of looks, but also facial expressions and poses. This series also continues to be bloodier than we've seen from past Buffy or Angel comics, and Isaacs handles that without turning it into a gore-fest.

Also, we get to see Angel's vampire face in this issue, and it looks very good -- like it did on the TV series, which is to be expected, but hasn't always been the case in the comics. Still, my favorite page of the issue is the first one of the flashback scene, with Faith talking to Giles, where Faith is wearing a Batman logo T-shirt. It's the kind of subtle thing you don't always notice, but good artists put in for fans. Also, there's 100% consistency with Giles's apartment between this issue and the last one, which, again, should be the case but doesn't always happen. It's a sign that Isaacs is paying attention to detail, and for that, we as readers should be thankful.

Score: 5 out of 5


Overall


If you want to get really nit-picky, you could ding the overall score of this issue for the "bachelor" professor inconsistency, but that's one tiny thing in what is a strong issue. The score for this one is slightly lower than the previous issue, if only because there's nothing that packs the punch of "I'm going to bring Giles back to life", but don't take that to mean the series is moving in the wrong direction. If it can give us issues like this one month after month, it'll be at the top of every comic reader's pile on Wednesdays.


Score: 4 out of 5

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